Super tender and moist layers of chocolatey - but not overly sweet - cake surrounded by fluffy, cloud-like milk chocolate buttercream. Best of all, this chocolate cake for two comes together super quick and simple with just enough leftover for a second helping.
Do you love cake? Because I love cake. All the cakes. But especially this chocolate layer cake.
Let me tell you why:
- the cake isn't super sweet so it balances out the sweet buttercream
- rich chocolate flavor
- the crumb is SO tender and moist
- the frosting is the perfect amount of sweet and chocolatey
- the whole dang thing can be made in under an hour
And that is why I gotta a lot of love for this cake.
If you're looking at the ingredients and saying, 'hmmmm' this feels familiar. It should. To make this smaller, meant for two to four people, cake we're using my go to chocolate mud cake. I've used it for this pumpkin buttercream cake, salted caramel pretzel cake, this oreo cake...if it's not broken, don't fix it, and this cake recipe is a hit every time.
What makes this chocolate cake special is that you get all the chocolate flavor from the cocoa but it's not crazy sweet. The hot water in the batter adds so much moisture to the crumb of the cake, you can over-bake it (just like I did on the second recipe test) and it's still forgiving. And that not so sweet, but really chocolatey cake is the perfect match for this frosting.
How to Make Chocolate Cake for Two
We're going about this just like we would any other cake recipe. Prep the pans, mix the dry, add the wet, bake a cake.
The only change you're going to make is if you're making both the cake and then frosting it all within the same time frame. You know, start and finish the project all at once.
If that's the case, you're going to start with melting the chocolate for the frosting first. This will give the chocolate enough time to cool down without getting too cold. If you add the chocolate while it's too warm, your buttercream will be way too soft. But if you add the melted chocolate once it's cooled but still melted, you'll end up with fluffy, gorgeous frosting.
Once the cake is done baking, let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake cools you can make the frosting. Just beat the butter, add the sugar and vanilla. Once the chocolate is beat in it will start to get really fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides at this point so all the butter and chocolate are incorporated evenly and mix in the heavy cream from extra fluffiness.
Can you substitute a different kind of chocolate?
Absolutely! You can use semi-sweet, dark chocolate, or even white chocolate!
I love using the milk chocolate here because...at the risk of sound like a broken record...the cake is not a sweet as a typical bakery-style chocolate cake, just really chocolatey so I like the sweetness and color contrast the milk chocolate flavor adds.
Do I need special pans?
You'll need two 6-inch cake pans, like these cake pans (affiliate link!)
If you don't want to buy smaller pans, you can bake the cake in a 9-inch pan and cut it in two layers. You might run the risk of the cake breaking since it's so tender and the layers will be really thin, so I'd recommend using the smaller cake pans. Plus they're so cute!
How to decorate your chocolate cake
This is my favorite part! You can make it as fancy or simple as you want.
The milk chocolate butter cream is so fluffy, my go to move is just to use the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting a bit and keep it rustic (aka not perfectly smooth).
Of course, a little garnish is always fun. You can add some shaved chocolate swirls by running a vegetable peeler over a bar of chocolate. Sprinkle some sea salt. Or, my personal favorite, add a swirl of salted caramel sauce.
This chocolate cake for two is perfect for when you need to fill that chocolate fix, want some cake, but don't want a ton of leftovers. Make it for a neighbor to brighten their day. Or for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day. Or for yourself because you deserve something special.
In the mood for some more Valentine's Day recipes? Try some of these favorites!
What are you making this chocolate cake for? If you made it, please let me know if the comments and tag me on social media so I can see your delicious creations!
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream (for Two)
Chocolate Cake for Two
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 120g
- 1 cup granulated sugar 100g
- ⅓ c cocoa powder 35g
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder*
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup canola oil 60ml
- ½ cup whole milk 125ml
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup boiling water 125ml
Milk Chocolate Buttercream
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips 170g, melted and cooled
- 1 stick unsalted butter 113g, softened
- 1 ¼ cup confectioners sugar 157g
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- Optional ingredients: chocolate shavings sea salt, and/or salted caramel for garnish
- Melt the chocolate. Set a medium, heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool on the counter. If you're baking the cake far ahead of frosting it, skip this step until you're ready to frost but give the chocolate about 30 minutes to cool.
- Prep. Grease and flour (2) 6-inch baking rounds. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or in a mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk until combined.
- Mix the wet ingredients. At low speed, add the egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until the wet ingredients are fully incorporated. Carefully add the boiling water and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Bake. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then run a butter knife around the edges and flip onto a wire cooling rack. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting. They can be transferred to the fridge for a few minutes if needed.
- Make the frosting. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla, slowly increase speed to medium-high as sugar incorporates. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the cooled chocolate, beat for about 1 minute, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat for about 30 seconds.
- Frost. Frost the bottom layer of cake. Top with the second cake layer and cover with the remaining frosting spreading the frosting over the top of the cake and down the sides. Use a spoon to swirl the frosting. Optional: top with shaved chocolate, sea salt, or caramel drizzle.
- *Espresso powder can be skipped! It just adds to the rich, chocolate flavor.
- If baking in advance of serving, store in the fridge. Let come to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.
- Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.
- This cake will serve 4 to 6 servings.